Thursday, March 31, 2011

Wanna See A Grown Man Cry?

Tell him you have a new potato soup recipe you're going to try.  You've had it recently when your sister made it, and it was delicious.  Describe to him just how creamy, cheesy, bacony, potato-ey this soup is.  Promise him he'll love it. 

Make sure he knows the day you're going to make it so that he can come home good and hungry.  Make sure it looks and smells great when he walks in the door, exactly as you told him it would.

Now instead of making the soup with real bacon, use turkey bacon.  And watch the tears fall fast and thick.

Aw, I'm just kidding.  He didn't really cry.  In fact, in nearly seven years of marriage, I don't think I've ever seen Derek cry.  I believe the closest he's come was right after Adelaide was born.  When I was in the hospital and getting ready to deliver her, he planted himself firmly by my head and turned his face away from the action.  After she arrived and they announced, "It's a girl!" I thought his eyes looked a little overbright.  Mistakenly thinking he was choked up with emotion at the birth of our firstborn, I asked, "So, what do you think?"  He shattered my previous notions when he shook his head and muttered, "I think my peripheral vision is too good." 

Poor, traumatized Derek.  All he wanted was to sit in the waiting room, handing out cigars. 

Okay, I'm officially off track.  Where was I?

Oh, yes.  Turkey bacon and the red-headed stepchild of potato soups.

So instead of crying, your husband will eat more than one bowl of this ugly cousin to your sister's real potato soup.  Because he is, in fact, a good husband. 

To make up for the soup, push back your nightly walk and bake a batch of your delicious peanut butter cookies. 

Go for your evening constitutional.  Walk four miles instead of your usual three because you ate no less than a dozen of those warm, delectable cookies.

Return home.  Thank your husband for staying home with the kids so you could get some fresh air and strengthen your often tenuous hold on sanity.

The next day, cook up the rest of that false bacon for your children.  Then vow never to allow that abomination into the house again.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Caedmon at Six Months

On Monday, we went to the doctor's office for Caedmon's six month check-up.  I was apparently experiencing temporary insanity when I made the appointment, and scheduled it for 2:30 in the afternoon- right in the heart of naptime, and at a time when I would have to take all three kids with me. 

Adelaide was, of course, a gem throughout the appointment.  She found the tub of books, appropriated one corner of the exam room, and spent the majority of our time there reading about Arthur the aardvark going to school.

If Adelaide was a diamond, Atticus was the rough.  We were seeing a nurse practitioner instead of our usual doctor, and I wasn't sure what to expect.  She walked into the room, all enthusiasm and boisterous noise.  Atticus bonded with her immediately.  She spent the first couple minutes talking with him (really more yelling and laughing back and forth) before turning her attention to Caedmon, who was lying patiently on the exam table, sucking on his toes.  About a minute into the exam, I noticed Atticus struggling to pull something out of pocket.  This is not abnormal behavior on his part, but I knew it would be prudent to keep a close eye on him, just in case whatever he pulled out was particularly disgusting or alive.  The nurse was just pulling Caedmon up to a standing position and testing his strength (with which she was very pleased), when Atticus finally managed to free a rock about the size of his fist from his jeans.  As I was puzzling over where he had found this rock, he lifted it above his head into the air, and before I could even gasp, he had brought it down, clocking himself on the top of the head.

He then fell to the floor crying.  It turns out hitting yourself on the head really hurts.

 I'm not sure whether this violent act was a desperate bid for attention or middle child syndrome rearing it's ugly head. 

Same difference, right?

The nurse checked his head, and he was fine.  Especially since he had her attention again. 

Eventually she managed to finish checking Caedmon over.  He's healthy, although his growth has slowed a bit.  When I imparted this news to Derek, he tore his hair and gnashed his teeth.

Not really.  All he did was tell Caedmon, "Okay, Spudley, you need to focus on overcoming those short Price genes." 

His stats for this month are:  17 lbs, 8 oz (he's gained about a pound and a half in two months, and is three pounds smaller than his brother and sister were at the same age), and is 27 inches long (he hasn't gotten much longer in two months, and is almost two inches shorter than his siblings were). 

I have to admit, I panicked a little when I saw that he hasn't grown much.  Atticus and Adelaide have generally been pretty big kids; such little growth kind of worries me.  The nurse wasn't at all concerned, however, and I guess as long as he's healthy, it doesn't matter how big he is.  That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it. 

Caedmon also got a couple shots.  He cried for about five seconds with the first one, and maybe ten seconds after the second stick.  Adelaide and I were both impressed by this- she kept telling Caedmon that she cried way more than that when she had to get all those rabies shots a year and a half ago.

But that's a story for another day.

Monday, March 28, 2011

'Member That Time?

'Member that time I had to miss my fourth grade two-day field trip?

My third- and fourth-grade class had spent months preparing for this field trip.  My awesome teacher, Mrs. Yount, tied all kinds of lessons into it's preparation- reading maps, figuring mileage, Kansas history lessons, etc.  Along with the rest of my class, I was so, so excited to be going not just on a field trip, but an overnight field trip across Kansas with my fellow Lutheran youngsters.

It was the day before our departure, and I remember being at home in the evening, in my room, listening to my Garth Brooks tape.  My baby-sitter, Kari, had introduced me to Mr. Brooks the previous summer, and because in my mind Kari was the epitome of All Things Cool, I was listening to a lot of Garth Brooks at that point in time.  I was especially fond of the song "Burning Bridges."

I went to bed that night, bags packed, ready for the next day's adventure.  And I had one of the most vivid, scary dreams of my childhood.

In the dream, I was running around on a flat, two-dimensional, and enormous map of Kansas.  It was completely dark around me, but I was able to see because of the monstrous flames surrounding me.  The only way to escape the fire that was consuming Kansas was to go over one of the many bridges covering the map.  These were small, wooden, arched and otherwise quaint-looking bridges- the kind you'd see in someone's backyard or garden.  The only problem was, every time I'd run over one of these bridges, it would burst into flames and collapse behind me.  I was dashing around, trying to find a way through the inferno, running out of bridges, when I woke up.

It was just a nightmare, not real after all.  A vicious fever dream.  I was sick, and had to stay home.  I couldn't go on the field trip.

I still haven't ever been to the World's Largest Hand-Dug Well, nor have I ever seen the World's Largest Meteorite.  These items were located in Greensburg, Kansas, which was victim to a massive tornado in 2007.  The museum was destroyed (that's right, there was a museum for these popular Kansas-style tourist attractions), but the well survived, and the meteorite was later recovered in the rubble. 

Someday, I will venture forth to Greensburg, and will get to see for myself the wonders that my classmates witnessed.  I swear, they talked about it for weeks.

What's that?  You want to go with me?

It's 'Member That Time Monday over at the Van Voorst's.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Children Are A Trip, Man

I never wanted kids.

Did you know that?  It's true.

I was that girl that always told everyone, "I'm never getting married.  And I'm never having children.  Never."

Then I met Derek.  And changed my mind about marriage.

Derek and I had been married for about a year and were living in Connecticut.  I had scheduled my yearly doctor's appointment so that I would be able to head straight to work after the appointment. 

The doc was checking me out, and I was expecting an "all clear, see ya next year," kind of outcome.  We were getting close to being done, and she's making sure everything looked okay in my beautiful insides, when up on the screen, in what was otherwise basically a black void, a little pea appeared.

What's that?  I thought.

Then the doctor said, "What's that?"

Uh oh.

"Hmmm," she said.  "Would you mind taking a pregnancy test?"

"Sure!" I chirped.  Because I generally maintain a calm and happy exterior when I'm freaking out internally.

So I took the test, then was told to go wait in the doctor's personal office.

I waited.  Then she came in and said, "Well, I hope this good news, but you are pregnant!"

"Okay," I said pleasantly.

She waited for me to say something else, but I had nothing.  So she tried again.

"Were you trying to get pregnant?"

"No."  I continued to smile benignly.

Again, she waited for more of a response from me, but the speech centers of my brain had been temporarily fried by the word "pregnant."

So the doctor took another stab at conversation, bless her heart.  By now she was beginning to look a little worried.  "Are you alright?"

"Oh, yes," I replied.  "I'm fine."  More vapid smiling.  Honestly, I was even beginning to creep myself out.  The problem is, when I don't know how to act or respond to a situation, I usually fall back on extreme politeness and good manners. 

After reassuring her several more times that I was fine, fine, fine, the doc finally let me escape.

I went to work, a job I really enjoyed.  I don't remember much of that workday.

Derek called soon after I got home, and asked how the appointment had gone.  "Fine," I told him.  It was my word of the day.  I didn't feel like it was the kind of thing I should tell him over the phone. 

He got home around midnight.  Derek was working at ESPN at the time, and his work schedule generally centered around live sporting events. 

I didn't know how to bring it up, and waited until he had settled in to play a few games of Madden before going to bed.  "So, the doctor told me I was pregnant today."

It took awhile to sink in.  It was a little comforting that he was nearly as speechless as I had been, and obviously didn't really know how to respond. 

Eventually, we both accepted the reality of a baby Crisler, and my pregnancy was relatively uneventful.  I still wasn't really sure how I felt about having children. 

Then I had Adelaide.  And changed my mind about kids. 

Not having fantasized or even really thought about having children, I didn't quite know what to expect from my own progeny.  I wasn't completely ignorant; having grown up with two wonderfully weird younger sisters, I knew children could be kind of... strange.

But nothing prepared me for the reality of my own crazy kids.  And the older they get, the more odd they seem. 

Case in point-  this is Atticus yesterday evening:

Footed firetruck pajamas?  Sure, I could have predicted that in a son.  What I didn't see coming were his regular requests to wear the crushed velvet leopard-print vest over them.

Lunch on the back deck?  Sounds delightful.  What kid doesn't enjoy a picnic?

But lunch on the back deck when it's barely thirty degrees outside?  I just don't get it.  And Atticus doesn't seem to mind when I tell him it's too cold for me outside, so I dart outside to set his sandwich on the table (and snap a quick picture), then rush back inside, and watch him eat from the comfort of my warm laundry room.

How about dancing with Daddy?  It's only natural that Adelaide would enjoy dancing around the living room after supper most nights.  What we didn't realize was that she has been carefully watching Derek's mouth as he sings along with Switchfoot, and now appears to know most of the words to her favorite songs.  It's just weird, albeit amusing, to hear her belt out, "There ain't no drug... There ain't no drug... I made a mess of me, I wanna reverse this tragedy..." with all the verve and angst her four-year-old body can muster.

(Please excuse my messy house.  The nightly toy pick-up often doesn't happen until after the kids' bedtime.)

Caedmon, at six months old, has yet to display much bizarre behavior.  He seems content to watch the show his two older sibling put on daily.  And who knows?  Maybe Spud will be my normal child. 

But I'm not counting on it.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Local Woman Hosts High Tea

     Mrs. Lorri Greenlee, of the Winfield Greenlee's, recently hosted the society event of the season:  her annual Spring Tea Party.

     The party was so exclusive, the original guest list numbered a mere three lucky souls. The creme de la creme of Kansas society was there: Mrs. Kelli Huser and Miss Stephanie Price, and guest of honor, Iowa debutante Miss Adelaide Crisler. 

  While immersing themselves in genteel conversation, the ladies enjoyed a menu that is sure to become the final word in refined tea party fare:  Cheez-Its, Teddy Grahams, and grapes.
   When asked about the recent fete, Miss Crisler commented, "It was a lovely tea party.  The fancy table and chairs were lovely. The special glasses were lovely. The food was lovely."

  And her fellow guests? 


   Mrs. Greenlee kept the excitement level high by announcing surprise guest Mr. Atticus Crisler midway through the party.  This unorthodox testosterone-infused addition was welcomed to the table with grace.  Indeed, the splendid display of proper attitude and manners seemed to have a most civilizing effect on Mr. Crisler.

  Although he conducted himself with the dignity befitting one of his elevated station, Mr. Crisler did bring a decided masculine note to the gathering.  Decked out in a canary-yellow hard hat and wielding a green hammer, he was never without his two Hotwheels cars. 

  When asked for his opinion on the party, Mr. Crisler had this to offer:
  "I yike the grapes."
  And upon further prodding,
 "The table is purdy."

  An astute observation indeed, Mr. Crisler.

Monday, March 21, 2011

And We're Back

Our family has spent most of the past week traveling. 

Derek was in a wedding in Florida, so the kids and I decided to take a trip down to southern Kansas to visit family- assorted and sundry grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends.  By all accounts, Derek had a terrific time in the Sunshine State, while the rest of us greatly enjoyed the Sunflower State.

But by the time yesterday rolled around, we were ready to be reunited and head for home.

We were all exhausted.

You know you're young when you can sleep like this and your neck doesn't kill you.

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's eyelashes.

When Derek and I are apart, for some reason I am visited by an overwhelming compulsion to share every last detail of his time away.  So while the kids slept in the back, Derek got to listen while I regaled him with stories of our time in Kansas- from the conversation I had with my Grandma all the way down to the political cartoon I read in the local paper.

I know what you're thinking:  That Derek's a lucky, lucky guy.

And even though it's almost thirty degrees cooler here than where we were yesterday, I have to admit there's some truth in the line from that old movie.

You know the one.

Yeah, you do.

'"There's no place like home."

I just couldn't resist.

Monday, March 14, 2011

'Member That Time?

'Member that time, my first day at my new part-time job in high school, when I waited on an older gentleman?  'Member how I rang up his purchase and announced the total, $19.23?  'Member how instead of digging out his wallet, as I had expected, he stared off into the middle distance and said, "Ah, 1923... that was a good year."  'Member how I just smiled politely and tried to look as if I agreed, when in reality I was thinking, "Holy guacamole, how old are you?"
'Member how working with the older generations turned out to be one of my favorite parts of working in a drugstore, in no small part because they were always saying stuff like that?

It's 'Member That Time Monday at la casa de Van Voorst.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Photo Shoot

At least once a day,

Adelaide requests to have her picture taken with Caedmon.

A few days ago, I said, "Okay."

She could do this all day.

Caedmon could not.

And he tells her so.
The shoot disintegrates from there.

But a short break is enough to restore his good humor.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Which Do You Want First?

The good news or the bad news?

The good news is that the second level of our house has been scrubbed to within an inch of it's life.  Carpet vacuumed, woodwork polished, toys, furniture, walls, baseboards all wiped down.

The bad news involves the time leading up to this spring cleaning. 

Monday evening, Derek came home from work, and Atticus and Adelaide were upstairs playing.  Supper was ready, but rather than call them down right away, we decided to eat in peace for a few minutes, just Caedmon, Derek, and me.  We were enjoying the fact that we could eat and converse with each other without being interrupted every four seconds when The Informer came downstairs. 

She looked like this:

So we yelled for Atticus to come downstairs.

He looked like this:

I have to admit, we chuckled when we saw him.  It was pretty funny.

We stopped laughing when we got upstairs.

While we had been eating our supper, The Destroyer had gotten into the baby powder and annointed nearly everything within reach.  While Derek bathed our newly albino children, I spent much of Monday evening wiping things down with damp cloths, then woke up Tuesday morning to discover that there was still a white film on nearly everything.  Several hours were subsequently spent re-cleaning.  Our bedrooms now smell like a combination of soap, vinegar, Pledge, and still more baby powder.  I can't seem to fully expunge the carpet, so the kids' clothes become paler and paler shades of pastel as the day wears on.

It's events like these that make me vow never to leave Atticus alone to play again, no matter how enticing the thought of five free minutes becomes.

Then the laundry piles up, dishes crowd my kitchen counters, my other children need my attention, and I break my word.  The lure of a few two-year-old-free minutes always gets the better of me.

Guess who's upstairs by himself right now?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Walkin' In a Winter Wonderland

At 1:40 yesterday afternoon, I laid Caedmon down for his nap.  Atticus was already sleeping, and Derek was halfway there.  So I decided to take advantage of this rare opportunity for some time alone and go for a walk.  It had just started to snow, and I was looking forward to some solitude.  Adelaide was downstairs coloring, and I knew that would keep her busy for at least half an hour. 

As I was preparing to leave, however, I started to feel selfish for hoarding the afternoon to myself and not taking the chance to spend some one-on-one time with my daughter. I decided to ask her if she would like to accompany me on my jaunt.  Obviously not fully ready to relinquish my freedom, however, I phrased my offer in the following fashion:

"Hey, Adelaide, I'm going for a walk.  It's really cold outside, and kind of windy, and it's probably going to be a pretty long walk.  Would you like to go with me?"

Her response was swift and enthusiastic:  "I'd love to go with you!"

So instead of venturing out alone, enjoying a quiet afternoon and thinking deep thoughts about whether to fix chicken noodle soup or mexican lasagna for supper, I spent the next 45 minutes pushing Adelaide in the stroller through a beautiful snowfall.  We discussed bald eagles and what they mean to the American people, the difference between Mexico and New Mexico, and a country versus the country.

I'm not sure what to think about the fact that my conversation with 4-year-old Adelaide was more intelligent than any inner thoughts I would have had alone.

Probably best not to delve too deeply into that particular quagmire.

Friday, March 4, 2011

They're Coming To Take Me Away, Ho-Ho...

I'm worried about Adelaide.

Over the past year or so, I've noticed a certain... development.  This development is both familiar and disturbing.

Any number of times in the recent past, Adelaide and I have been sitting together during the boys' naptime, and we'll hear a sound:  the house settling, a loud clack from a toy in the washer, a large bug hitting the window.  As soon as the sound registers, her head whips around, she whispers, "What was that?" and she gets that look on her face. 

Or we'll get home, shut the door, and she'll immediately remind me to lock it.  I always do, so I ask why she thinks we lock the door.  She responds, "So that bad people can't come in our house," and again, that look on her face. 

I've seen this face many, many times before.

The name of this face is paranoia.

I watched it creep over my sister's childhood face as she carefully peered into our bathroom mirror, perhaps searching for traces of the people that she was sure were behind the glass, watching her.

I've felt it steal across my own face when Derek is gone overnight and I booby-trap the door to the basement.  Because what are the chances an intruder is going to break in through the front or back doors?  No, odds are he'll force his way into the basement, find his way to the rickity stairs, and prey upon us via that route.  I am the first to admit that this could be a lingering remnant of fear left over from hearing "Thump, thump, draaaag," one too many times in my childhood. 
Oh, you're not familiar with it?  Ask me to tell it to you sometime.  It's a delightful confection of a story.

Paranoia and Rational are not synonyms.

Just last week, I was getting the children ready for the day, when I heard my cell phone ring downstairs.  I looked at the clock:  7:30 am.  I knew that it was one of two people calling at that time of day:  either my Grandma, with some question or other, or my neighbor, reporting that she was at that moment watching a suspicious stranger breaking through the gate and into our backyard.

So that he could find the basement entrance, prowl to the stairs, and come up through the middle of the house.

It took a few moments for my mind to concoct this scenario, so I didn't actually get to the phone in time to answer it.  But by the time my phone rang again, signalling I had a voicemail, I was flying down the stairs, anxious to have my fears confirmed.  I keyed in the password to my voicemail account as I ran back up the stairs to begin herding my offspring into the frozen morning and escape the homicidal lunatic currently making his way across the basement floor.  Just as I picked up Caedmon, however, I registered a new sound. 

My Grandma's voice, coming from the receiver of my phone.  She just had a question for me.  Could I please call her back?

Adelaide's only hope is that the overwhelming sanity and rationality of Derek's genetic makeup can compensate for my unbalanced DNA.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


On Monday, all three of my babies... 

...took naps at the same time.

It was glorious.

To celebrate, I made a barbeque chicken pizza.
It made my kitchen smell like Head Country.

That, too, was glorious.

The End